Utah County Commissioners Vote Against Privatizing Government Services

January 17, 2018

At the Utah County Commissioner Meeting yesterday, Commissioner Greg Graves revealed he had pushed towards the privatization of government services and that he and the other commissioners had visited a government who had privatized its services but he was voted down by the other two commissioners Bill Lee and Nathan Ivie.

I was shocked because months ago Commissioner Bill Lee told me he was all for privatization and they were going to visit a county government that had gone private–I think he said it was in Georgia.

Some government employees such as Brandon Larsen in Utah County Planning & Zoning provide excellent customer service. Brandon answers all of my questions, cites county regulations to support his answers and explain my options, and whenever he doesn’t immediately have answers he says he must talk to staff and then follows up by email with detailed answers.

Although I don’t always agree with the county planning and zoning regulations, I respect Brandon Larsen because he reads the regulations, tries wherever he can to improve them, and abides by them.

In contrast, Utah County Environmental Health provides the worst-quality customer service imaginable. They refuse to answer my questions or reveal the laws to which they must adhere. They ignore all my requests to explain their processes and scientific methods before, during or after performing services for which I pay. Whatever they rule is mandatory even when they make a mistake.

To make matters worse, they sick their lawyers on me—the same lawyers who instruct Environmental Health employees to not answer my questions and to route all correspondence with me through them.

Last week, Jason Garrett emailed me and said they would answer my questions if I cancel the underground water monitoring for which I paid. Can you imagine being treated with such contempt by a company who wants to stay in business?

When a business treats you well, you are happy and motivated to employ them or shop at their store. You are happy to return regularly or whenever necessity requires. Costco employees are great examples of excellent, friendly service—they always smile and talk to us and whenever we must return anything, they are always pleasant and willing. Over the years at least three Costco female employees good became friends.

Doug’s Auto in Orem is another excellent example of outstanding, personable service. Doug and his two sons Jake and Kirk always save us money and sometimes don’t charge us because of our loyalty. Even more importantly, they know our names, our vehicle history, explain problems and solutions clearly and treat us as friends.

I would be thrilled if Doug, Jake and Kirk come to my funeral.

When you are not treated well by a business, you may demand to speak to a manager who is usually anxious to help and ensure your satisfaction.If you are still upset, to prevent others from experiencing similar, awful service, you may file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or submit a bad review online on Yelp or Google Reviews.

Many employees outside of government have been fired for treating customers poorly but how often are government employees fired?

What recourse do you have when the government monopolizes their services and treats you with hostility? None.

by Robert John Stevens

Should Governments Seize Property and Ruin The Lives of Citizens Who Fail to Pay Their Property Taxes?

by Robert John Stevens, December 22, 2017

If you fail to pay your property taxes, should the government seize your property?

I’ve sat in several Utah County Commissioners’ Meetings where citizen appeals are reviewed. Each time county employees testify to the county commissioners that they sent property tax notices and still the taxes weren’t paid. Each time the commissioners unanimously deny the appeal and ruin lives.

This scene always reminds me of French revolution movie scenes where tyrants send innocent citizens to the guillotine.

Google, “What percentage of mail gets lost by USPS yearly?” How many times have you received someone else’s postal mail? Did you always promptly forward it? What if you are experiencing financial distress and cannot pay your property taxes?

There are approximately 600,000 citizens in Utah County. Guestimating 20% own property, that’s 120,000 property tax notices per year. If 1% of those are lost or stolen, then 12,000 landowners face property seizure.

Shockingly, the citizens who filed for appeals were not at the meetings. Why not? Probably because they felt they submitted valid reasons and expected mercy, forgiveness and civility.

Commissioner Bill Lee told me on Wednesday that it is the duty of every citizen to pay his or her property taxes and the tax notices are just courtesies. I have a great deal of respect for Bill Lee. He’s a fine person who has acquired a great deal of wisdom. At first, Bill’s argument sounded reasonable to me and then I remembered that most citizens in Utah County are Mormon, Catholic or Protestant and expect the county commissioners to Follow the Golden Rule as commanded by Jesus Christ and reiterated by modern apostles.

“Followers of Christ should be examples of civility…We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence…We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: ‘Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them’ (Matthew 7:12).”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—Follow the Golden Rule.

If I were a commissioner I would never vote to seize the property of citizens who failed to pay their taxes. To exercise equal justice, I would approve appeals contingent upon reasonable accrued interest, not to exceed what local banks impose. There is no reason found in Christianity for governments to seize property and ruin the lives of citizens who are late paying their property taxes.

Using the Force of Government to Keep Car Dealerships in Business

by Robert John Stevens, May 6, 2016

Suppose you bake yummy cookies. Should government deny you of your right to sell them directly to your customers? That’s what Utah does for car manufactures. If Tesla Motors wants to sell directly to the public then let them:

Tesla waging car-sales fight before Utah Supreme Court.

There are no similar laws against the farmer’s market either. For example, farmers can grow corn and sell it directly the public.

To Utah Government Employees

by Robert John Stevens, January 29, 2016

You work hard doing your jobs and enforcing ordinances. It isn’t your fault elected and unelected bureaucrats turned Utah into a regulatory state.

Property rights were never delegated to the government: They were usurped by people with good intentions but lacked an understanding of free agency and the proper role of government.

Who among us feels comfortable telling our neighbor they can’t move onto their property without restrictions as did their pioneer ancestors?

Or whether or not they can build a home and accessory buildings?

Or whether or not they can filter and drink their own well water or import it from Costco, Culligan or Mount Olympus?

Or mandate they must use Rocky Mountain or Strawberry Power while forbidding solar or geothermal energy or living without power?

Or require them to laser level their fields?

Or require them to pay for weed abatement when God Almighty is the author of obnoxious weeds that were placed here for His own reasons?

Or require them to build expensive irrigation canals when pressurized irrigation uses 1/3 less water?

Or deny them a building permit if they don’t have enough water shares and just want to dry farm or not farm at all?

Or mandate they must pave their driveway with naturally deteriorating asphalt or cement when they are happy to use dirt or gravel?

Nobody. Then who in good conscience feels justified using the force of government to make neighbors do what they will not voluntarily agree to do, and penalize them when they refuse to comply?

For now you must do your job and enforce the laws and ordinances in your jurisdiction but when you serve citizens ask yourself, “If these laws weren’t established could I in good conscience force this person to comply?”

As you ponder these things you’ll discover we can no longer elect and uphold officials who enforce the regulatory state1 because whenever we try and do anything outside of normal living, including developing land or starting a business, we come in contact with unconstitutional laws that hinder our progress to the point where most of us cannot afford the time, money and stress required to proceed.

To make progress necessitates overcoming numerous roadblocks and barriers. These must be eliminated for our free society to endure and for our nation to return to prosperity.

1 Attached to every ordinance and law is a penalty for non compliance.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary and LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson taught repeatedly this principle to judge laws: A good rule of thumb is if I can’t persuade my neighbor to do something against his will then I can’t in good conscience use the force of government to make him.

Government is force. It is used primarily to force people to do things they would not do voluntarily and to penalize them when they disobey.

I better rethink my summary. Short, clear and concise is best but is the most difficult to create. Here’s the extended version:

God so adamantly favors free agency that he cast out 1/3 of the spirits in heaven for siding with Satan whose plan was to deny free agency and save everyone in their sins, and provided mankind with a Savior, prophets and apostles who declare His word which consists mainly of commandments, laws and remarkably short precepts that when obeyed brings blessings.

God later raised up wise men who became the Founding Fathers of the United States. Under His guidance they gave us the shortest but most complete Constitution and Bill of Rights ever devised under heaven which was “for all flesh” and has been used as a model for constitutions all over the world, limits the intrusion of government and grants unto citizens their free agency to worship God and prosper.

Jesus later declared “I established the Constitution of this land by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80).

Knowing the Founders’ great compromise over slavery was wrong, He declared, “Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.”

Because of the Constitution, the gospel was restored in America at the soonest time possible.

Since the Constitution was ratified, rather than focus on its simple truths, hundreds of thousands of laws have been created to deny citizens their free agency in cities, counties, states and at the Federal level. I call this the regulatory state. The IRS tax code alone in 2015 was 74,608 pages.

Jesus foresaw this and warned in 1833, “Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.”

Why is more or less evil? Because fewer or more laws deny mankind their free agency. Affixed to each law is a penalty for non-compliance: Government will fine, imprison, or even confiscate your property if you do not comply to unjust laws in which you did not give your consent.

Most of us surrender to and support these laws through taxation.

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We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. —D&C 121:39